Notes to broadcasters on drying lake

    | September 22, 2012

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    The story of Lake Chilwa – Malawi’s shrinking lake – has captured considerable media attention in the past month. It’s a story that directly affects the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people, but it is also emblematic of climate change, one of the biggest global issues of our time.

    To read more about Lake Chilwa, see:
    -“Malawi: Shrinking lake threatens livelihoods” (to read more about the impact on fishers and farmers).
    -“The dying lake” (to learn more about how human activities exacerbate the problem).
    -“Malawi fears hunger as Lake Chilwa dries” (to explore the ecological importance of the lake).

    Malawi Fears Hunger as Lake Chilwa Dries

    Across Africa, small-scale farmers, fishers, and pastoralists have been forced to change their practices to adapt to the effects of climate change, including warmer temperatures and erratic rainfall patterns. Following are a selection of FRW stories that look at how farmers and pastoralists are affected, and how they are adapting:

    -Niger: Farmers plant trees to slow desert’s advance (FRW #100, February 2010)
    -East Africa: Pastoralists survive drought by adapting (FRW #110, May 2010)
    -Kenya: Farmers use drought-resistant crops and improved access to water to adapt to climate change (FRW #114, June 2010)
    -Kenya: Home-grown solutions help pastoralists adapt to changing climate (#FRW 183, December 2011)
    -Zimbabwe: Erratic rains and long dry spell worry farmers (FRW #190, February 2012)
    -Congo-Brazzaville: Changing climate affects farmers on the Congolese coast (FRW #206, July 2012)

    Farm Radio International’s script package #89, published in December 2009, focused on farmer adaptation to climate change, and provides a wealth of resources, including scripts and background information.
    -“Awareness of climate change: An issue pack”, provides a primer on the subject:
    -Browse the award-winners from our scriptwriting competition on small-scale farmer adaptation to climate change and further information packs (89.2-89.10):

    You might also consider producing a call-in and text-in show, or a locally researched news story, on one or both of the following topics:

    1) Local climate change observations:
    -What differences in seasonal temperature and rainfall patterns have people observed?
    -Have floods and/or droughts been more frequent in the last 20-30 years than in previous decades?
    -What differences in the properties of soil have been seen in recent decades?
    -What differences in vegetation have been seen, including crops, pasture, and wild plants?

    2) Local adaptation techniques:
    -What crops have farmers struggled with, and which have proven well-suited to these new conditions?
    -What sorts of feeding and care techniques have livestock farmers used to cope with new conditions?
    -What techniques are farmers using to prevent flooding and make the best use of available water?
    -What other steps have farmers taken to maintain food security in the case of severe drought or floods?